Sputter-Deposited Ag Nanoparticles on Electrospun PCL Scaffolds: Morphology, Wettability and Antibacterial Activity
Porous scaffolds made of biocompatible and environmental-friendly polymer fibers with diameters in the nano/micro range can find applications in a wide variety of sectors, spanning from the biomedical field to textiles and so on. Their development has received a boost in the last decades thanks to advances in the production methods, such as the electrospinning technique. Conferring antimicrobial properties to these fibrous structures is a primary requirement for many of their applications, but the addition of antimicrobial agents by wet methods can present a series of drawbacks. In this work, strong antibacterial action is successfully provided to electrospun polycaprolactone (PCL) scaffolds by silver (Ag) addition through a simple and flexible way, namely the sputtering deposition of silver onto the PCL fibers. SEM-EDS analyses demonstrate that the polymer fibers get coated by Ag nanoparticles without undergoing any alteration of their morphological integrity upon the deposition process. The influence on wettability is evaluated with polar (water) and non-polar (diiodomethane) liquids, evidencing that this coating method allows preserving the hydrophobic character of the PCL polymer. Excellent antibacterial action (reduction &gt; 99.995% in 4 h) is demonstrated against Escherichia coli. The easy fabrication of these PCL-Ag mats can be applicable to the production of biomedical devices, bioremediation and antifouling systems in filtration, personal protective equipment (PPE), food packaging materials, etc.